National mental health campaign seeks public access to psychologists

National mental health campaign seeks public access to psychologists
Psychologist Rehman Abdulrehman says public access to mental health care is decreasing.Photo: Nik Thavisone.

The Association of Psychologists of the NWT (APNWT) has joined forces with a national campaign to advocate for more access to mental health services in the public healthcare system.

This month marked the launch of the national campaign, Mind Your Mental Health, which aims to both raise the profile of mental illness and pressure provincial and territorial governments to provide more access to psychologists.

Rehmam Abdulrehman, a clinical psychologist in Winnipeg and spokesperson for the Canada-wide campaign, said recent research suggests access to mental health care in the territories, along with the rest of Canada, is decreasing.

“Our advocacy is to increase the access to psychologists in the public healthcare system. Right now it’s gone down, access to psychologists is getting worse – even just the numbers of psychologists, forget the ones that are in the public healthcare system,” he said.

Conservative statistics suggest as many as one in five Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental illness, but many in wellness professions believe that number to be higher, Abdulrehman said.

He said the association is hearing less and less concern about the negative stigmas around mental illness and more concern about the the lack of affordable access.

Abdulrehman said there are few stats coming out of the territories, however recent news about high suicide rates in the North suggests a growing mental health problem.

Robert O’Rourke, president of APNWT, said there’s an array of mental health service providers in the NWT, including traditional healers, psychiatrists, psychologists and wellness workers, but getting access to these services can still be difficult for residents who fall through the cracks of coverage.

O’Rourke said the NWT association backs the campaign’s mandate to ask the government to include those services in insured public health care.

“Open up the door a little more,” he urged.

For more information on the Mind Your Mental Health campaign, go online to

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